by S Sharma | 03 FEB 2018
The choices we make significantly affect the risk of cancer, says Dr Rama Mohan Reddy, Director, Radiation Oncology, CARE Group of Hospitals.
World Cancer Day is celebrated every year on February 4 all over the world to commemorate all the efforts done by the WHO, United Nations, governmental and nongovernmental health organizations towards making the strategy to fight against cancer as well as distributing the real message about this epidemic disease and its treatments including its precautionary measures by uniting all the people a day on global basis.
WHO warns that tobacco and alcohol abuse increases cancer risk. The WHO added that in occupational hazards and exposure to environmental substances continue to be a source of cancer and premature death. Speaking about cancer day, Dr Rama Mohan Reddy, Director, Radiation Oncology, CARE Group of Hospitals says, “Tobacco use accounts for 22 per cent of cancer deaths globally, and is a leading cause of the disease. Alcohol use, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity contribute to a burden that has profoundly negative social, economic and developmental implications. The choices we make significantly affect the risk of cancer.”
Every year 8.2 million die of cancer across the world. Two-thirds of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries, and more than 50 per cent of deaths could have been prevented. “Whether through labouring in fields without adequate sun protection or exposure to cancer-causing chemicals at a factory, workers throughout the region are exposed to risks,” says Dr Rama Mohan.
Outdoor air pollution, meanwhile, increases the risk of cancer for us all. Chronic infections caused by Human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B and C viruses, and Helicobacter pylori are also highly prevalent in the Region and important causes of preventable cancers.
Increasing awareness means supporting healthy workplaces; encouraging people to get regular check-ups for early detection of cancerous cells for improved chances of recovery; and encouraging people to abstain from tobacco use, avoid alcohol and unhealthy foods, and exercise regularly. “As lifespans increase and the natural ageing process takes its course, these measures will prove invaluable to the fight against cancer, both at an individual and societal level. This much we can all do,’’ says Dr Rama Mohan Reddy. Every year more than 50 per cent deaths could have been prevented.
According to the statistics, it has been noted that most of the cancer cases and cancer deaths (47 percent and 55 percent respectively) occur in less developed areas of the world. If it is not controlled, this condition may get worse by 2030. So, it is very necessary to get control over such situation at all the corners of the world.
Global trends suggest cancer will soon overtake heart disease as the leading cause of death. The 2008 World Cancer Report projected cancer rates will more than double worldwide by 2030, with over 26 million new diagnoses a year, many of which will be in Asia.
COMMON MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT CANCER
Below are listed some common myths and facts about the cancer among people which are necessary to be removed and well understand the reality about the cancer to get control over it.
Generally people think that cancer tissues are just health issue however it is not.
Common people think that cancer is a disease for wealthy and old age people however it is a global and epidemic disease which can affect all age group.
Common people think that suffering from the cancer is just like a punishment however most type of the cancer are now well treatable.
Common people think that having cancer is their fate however approximately 30% of the cases can be cured and prevented for whole life.
ADOPT A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Recent research has shown that physical activity brings down the incidence of cancers as well. About 50 per cent of common cancers can be prevented by reducing alcohol consumption, giving up smoking, a healthy diet and regular physical exercise and that is a pretty good incentive to help in making the right lifestyle choices.
GET REGULAR CHECK UPS
Very commonly, people are not aware of the importance of seeking care when symptoms are present, nor are they aware about recommended screening tests such as pap smears, HPV tests for cervical cancers and mammograms for breast cancers. This holds true for women across the socio-economic strata and varied educational back grounds. There is now clear evidence that deaths due to cervical cancer can be reduced by 80 per cent in screened women. In fact, even a single screening for cervical cancer in women between the ages of 30 -40 years can bring down a woman’s risk of cervical cancer by 25 to 36 per cent. Cervical cancer can be easily prevented by a combination of HPV vaccination and regular screening. The question is how do we get women to access health care and who pays for it? Cancer is a complex disease and often needs a lot of psycho-social input apart from a multidisciplinary medical treatment.
In spite of improving levels of education and economy, discussion about cancer is often considered taboo. While people would not hesitate to talk about their symptoms and the various medications they are on for their hypertension and diabetes, a diagnosis of cancer is one topic they do not feel they can talk about.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions that surround a diagnosis of cancer – a common one is that cancer is contagious which it is not. There is still a huge stigma attached to a cancer diagnosis especially in rural areas, very often leading to the person being ostracised from society.
As a priority, levels of public and professional awareness about cancer screening and early cancer warning signs should be improved and we would like the health sector, government and the media to be part of this important initiative.
Cancer control has to begin with cancer awareness amongst the community at large. Understanding local cultural beliefs and practices is important and screening programmes will have to factor this into their programmes to succeed.
It is ‘Not Beyond Us’ to meet the challenge of cancer control, if communities and governments realise that prevention of cancer is better and definitely cheaper than cure, if cancer awareness is given priority and screening programmes are integrated in to existing health systems. On the occasion of World Cancer Day, let us all take a pledge to fight against cancer.
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